How I Spent My Writing Blackout

by Bill Brenner on May 25, 2012

While prepping this new site, I decided to take a break from writing fresh posts. I didn’t want to live between two sites. Doing this and writing a security blog in my day job can be confusing enough. During this break, I’ve learned some important things about myself.

Mood music:


Breaking wasn’t easy for me. Daily writing has been a vital tool for me for a long time now, and while I continued to keep a private journal, I worried about the lack of public communication. The give and take that often results from a post has been immensely helpful to me. Trust me, I learn more from you than you do from me.

I was also getting obsessed with posting a lot of repeat content, because I’ve always had this fear that everyone will forget me if I go away for too long. Call it an OCD quirk or the mark of a narcissist. Both descriptions are accurate.

Though I’ve resumed the repeat posts this week, I did almost no re-posting for a couple weeks.

During that time, we celebrated Mother’s Day and Duncan’s First Communion. I went to California for a security event and spent a lot of time in San Diego and Los Angeles and then spent a very intense but awesome day and a half at my company offsite meeting.

Did I miss the daily dose of posting OCD DIARIES content? Not as much as I thought I would.

A beautiful thing happened: I found that I could go away and abstain from all promotion and not go into a painful withdrawal. Despite little to no promotion, the old version of the blog got just as much daily traffic as it did before. My audience, which has grown from a few dozen to several hundred a day, stuck around, digging through old posts, commenting on several and sharing them with others on their Twitter and Facebook pages. That was reassuring, to say the least.

I also enjoyed some more relaxed mornings.

Writing the daily OCD DIARIES post is usually the first thing I do every morning. During the blackout, I eased into work with a bit more serenity. It was especially nice during the California trip, where I filled the usual writing time with more adventures. I still worked the information security beat hard, writing a bunch of posts in my security blog while there. But I also found some spare time to walk the beach at Torrey Pines in San Diego with former co-worker Anne Saita. I spent the first night in the spare room of her home and got to know her husband, Gilbert, who I’ve heard about for years but had never met.

The drive back to L.A. was long but I didn’t mind. Avis gave me a brand-new Ford Edge SUV to drive, and I hated having to give it back. It was a smooth ride and was loaded with such modern technology as a GPS, a view screen that lets you see what’s behind you while backing up and multiple USB ports for charging the phone and iPod.

Once back in L.A., I walked up and down the Sunset Strip for a bit and went back to work. I spent that night sleeping on an air mattress on the kitchen floor of my friend Mike D. Mike is from Lynn, Mass., and was part of the circle of friends that included Sean Marley back in the day. For the last 23 years he’s been living in North Hollywood. We got some good quality time this trip, and I drove him around the Hollywood Hills to gawk at the homes of famous people and infamous murders, not telling him where we were headed as we drove around.

I was burnt when I got back home and spent much of the first day back crashed on the couch. That’s the sort of thing I don’t do easily, because I have trouble leaving the laptop closed.

Truth be told, I wanted to launch the new blog far sooner, but Erin made me wait. The email needed fixing and she didn’t want it launched until that was fixed.

There was another lesson: to be part of a team effort I need more patience than I currently have. We’re both control freaks in our own ways, and we knew it going in. Now the fun begins.

It was a good break and I’m glad I did it. I learned that I can in fact go away without being rendered irrelevant. I was never irrelevant, mind you, but my brain doesn’t work like most people’s.

I also remembered how important it is to take breaks. That’s something I easily forget in the heat of life.

All that said, I’m glad to be back in action. Now to see if I can use the lessons of the past two weeks to moderate my behavior.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anne June 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

It was a true pleasure having you as a house guest, Bill. I didn’t realize you and Gilbert hadn’t met in person until then. I guess my memory is getting stale. That view from the photo above of our walk on the beach never does. Glad to hear it was a good trip all around.

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